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Jeremy Rodock is a tough horse rancher who strings up rustlers soon as look at them. Fresh out of Pennsylvania, Steve Miller finds it hard to get used to Rodock's ways, although he takes an immediate shine to his Greek girl Jocasta. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Spencer Tracy was cast as Jeremy Roderick, but was replaced by James Cagney as Mr. Tracy complained and procrastinated about working on that location because of the altitude of working in the Rockies. This essentially resulted in Tracy's being fired from MGM, his home studio since 1935. See more »
[Offering to loan Steve ten dollars]
I'd lend you more, if you would use the money to go back home.
Go home? Why?
Steve, we've only talked a few times since you came here. But I know this about you. You are gentle. You haven't been used, and made hard. This is not your kind of life. Look at the men in the bunkhouse: Baldy, and Fat Jones, and Abe. Never a chance for a family, or a home. In ten years, you're gonna' be like them - a "nobody" on a horse. That's what a wrangler is: a "nobody" on a ...
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Stepping into the place of Spencer Tracy, James Cagney plays Jeremy Rodock in Tribute to a Bad Man. It's the story of a man in the wilds of the west where there is no law and he has to make his own to hold his own.
Of course in that kind of rugged country your character is also changed by the responsibility you have. You make a lot of enemies.
Don Dubbins is a young drifter who comes into the valley that Rodock and his spread dominate and finds a badly wounded Rodock. He administers some first aid and gets him back to his ranch. Cagney because he owes him his life, takes Dubbins in.
Cagney's got a live in mistress in Irene Papas and Dubbins goes kind of sweet on her. She's also got another admirer in one of the other ranch hands, Stephen McNally. If you think the plot is beginning to resemble Jubal which came out the same year, you're right.
Tribute to a Bad Man is the last of three Cagney westerns, The Oklahoma Kid and Run For Cover are the other two. I've never felt Cagney's urban persona is quite home on the range, but he does deliver a very good performance.
Best in the film however by far is Vic Morrow. He's the son of a rival rancher who Cagney catches stealing his horses. I can't say, but watch what he does to 'punish' him and then lets up. But Morrow's speech letting him know he's got a permanent enemy is the highlight of the film.
Without Cagney the film would be less than memorable though.
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